Our friend Admiral Buck (Bill Kraus) got a basic 3D printer for his birthday. He excitedly set up a mesh of one of his TOS kitbashes to print in 1/2500. It came out looking like someone had tried to wind a handful of silly string into the shape of a starship. Here's where we see that basic home 3D printers are whatchacall "low res"!
Because I am ignorant, I often try to find analogies or analogs to make discussion a little easier for the everyman to understand. It's not perfect but most anyone can grasp the key point.
What I've read the technical language of 3D printing is fairly obtuse and somewhat opaque. It may be my lacking of the necessary background.
I tend to think home 3D printing is at the 'early inkjet printer' stage, the 300 dpi times. I understand that there are some home printers that I would think of as 'color inkjet printer' level. You can print 'pictures' but they're not 'photo quality'. I would call this the thousands of dpi level.
Very expensive industrial 3D printers seem to be at what I think of as 'color laser printer' stage, so tens of thousands dpi.
When home 3D printing reaches that 'tens of thousands dpi' level we'll see some very exciting things happen. The physical printing equivalence of AFFORDABLE 'photo quality' output will change the world in unexpected ways. Combine that with physical scanning that matches, and no out of production model kit need ever be lost to time. Imagine a project of non-destructively scanning old model kits, even if it's a 'glue bomb' that's carefully taken apart, and re-creating it with 3D printing. It could be an exact replica, or it could be improved for accuracy or detail or simply better fit.
What a remarkable potential.
Geeze! Can you IMAGINE? How about taking some of those 'box scale' kits from the '50s and '60s (Sci-Fi or otherwise, I'm thinking like old Aurora helicopter kits) and being able to re-size them to a 'normal' scale!
Here's a goofy one. Modify the Aurora Flying Sub kit to 1/72 scale, correct the assembly issues, modify the interior to reflect the actual set.
Here's the issue then. How does a model kit company survive? Well, one way would be to get ahead of the curve, scan kits they technically own even if they don't have the tooling and offer those files for sale for a minimal amount of money. There's no reason a 20 piece old Hawk airplane kit should cost $50. Maybe $5. But this makes too much sense, and the hobby industry will probably follow the book industry struggling model of charging near the same price for a digital book as the physical book.
And there will be much home scanning and trading of files.